Pubdate: Sun, 02 Feb 2014
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2014 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Marc Ramirez


With Severe Health Issues, State's Strict Laws, Some Feel It's Their 
Only Option

After calling Texas home for 30-plus years, Amber Loew plans to move 
her family in March from near Houston to Colorado Springs. Her 
3-yearold, Hannah, has Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that 
causes her more than 50 seizures a day.

"She's gone into respiratory failure twice at home in the last six 
weeks," Loew said. "We've tried just about everything. She's on 12 
anti-seizure medications."

Through a national support group, she learned of a California man 
using medical marijuana to treat his similarly afflicted son. As an 
illegal drug, marijuana has little official research behind its 
health benefits.

But other children with the syndrome have benefited, she said - 
including Charlotte Figi, profiled by CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta last 
year. And once things started moving on the legalization front in 
Washington and Colorado, "we realized this could be our answer," Loew 
said. "This is our best hope."

In Canyon, near Amarillo, Becca Harmon and her husband have decided 
the same. Their 8 year-old daughter, Jillian, has cerebral palsy and 
intractable seizures.

"As much as we're bummed that we have to leave, we're excited that 
there's a place that's making these changes," Harmon said. "We love 
Texas. It's our home. But families like ours should not have to 
uproot and leave just to save their kids."

Texas' marijuana laws are relatively harsh, with up to six months 
jail time possible even for possession of tiny amounts. On Jan. 23, 
Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, said he would support moving toward 

But for now, sales and plant growing are prohibited, and the state 
forbids use of medical marijuana, which is low in THC, the 
psychoactive component. (Children take it orally, in oil form.)

Because Texas is among several states that don't allow citizen-driven 
ballot initiatives, the state chapter of NORML (National Organization 
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is focusing on educating lawmakers 
in advance of the 2015 legislative session.

The group hopes to see the revival of two bills it supported in 2013, 
including one aiming to lessen penalties for minor possession.

The second would have allowed patients to avoid arrest for use by 
presenting a medical defense, such as a doctor's statement suggesting 
marijuana as an effective option.

"I feel like, with there being 20 states with medical cannabis and 
two states with it fully legal, that we're reaching a tipping point," 
said Jax Finkel, Texas NORML's deputy director.
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